USC Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by AMurawa on July 2nd, 2012

It has now been 20 seasons since the USC Trojans last finished a season with less than 10 losses, 26 years since they earned at least a piece of the Pac-10 title and 51 whopping years since they won their conference outright (then known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities – or the Big Five). Compared to that history of futility, the recent past in USC basketball has been relatively successful. Between the 2006-07 and the 2010-11 seasons, the Trojans posted a combined 103-66 record, finished tied for third twice and never finished lower than a tie for fifth. And then came last season, when the wheels came off the bus entirely, as the team limped home to a school-worst 6-26 record, helped along by an almost unbelievable stretch of injuries. Of the five players who started in USC’s first exhibition game last summer in Brazil, just one was still active when their season wrapped up, and all told, just six scholarship players remained available.

Kevin O'Neill, USC

The USC Basketball Program Had Been Relatively Successful In Kevin O’Neill’s First Two Seasons, But Nothing Went Right Last Year (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Teams are going to have injuries from time to time, and head coach Kevin O’Neill understands that, but last year’s streak of bad luck came at a particularly tough time, with the program left in a fragile state by previous head coach Tim Floyd. In June 2009, Floyd resigned abruptly in the wake of NCAA investigations (and eventual penalties) related to illegal benefits for O.J Mayo, just shortly after starters DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett had all decided to leave school early to pursue professional careers. With the change in staff and the NCAA sleuthing around, the Trojans lost all but one player from their 2009 recruiting class, including Derrick Williams, Momo Jones and Renardo Sidney. The Trojans were able to scrape into the NCAA Tournament in 2011 behind a molasses-slow tempo and stingy defense, but the program was still in recovery mode from the Floyd fiasco, lacking the depth to be able to mask the multiple injuries they endured last year.

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What Can We Learn From NBA Draft Combine Measurements?

Posted by EJacoby on June 11th, 2012

The top 60 prospects for the upcoming NBA Draft were invited to Chicago for the official NBA Draft Combine late last week, where players seek to impress the loads of pro scouts and executives in attendance in preparation for June 28. Before players even began competing in drills and scrimmages, they were first tested by the ‘tape’ in an extensive set of measurements. This year’s numbers were released on Friday, which include everything from height and weight to hand width and horizontal wingspan. But do these physical measurements really mean anything? Does the fact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist measured a half-inch shorter than expected, or Jae Crowder’s hands are some of the widest of the group, have an impact on that player’s chances to succeed in the league? Adjusting to the elite size and speed of NBA competition is important for all incoming prospects, but a ball player is a ball player, regardless of his standing reach or hand size. History shows that some Combine measurements become useful in predicting future success while others bear no weight at all, making it a difficult data set to analyze.

Kevin Jones didn't measure out well at the Combine; does this mean anything for his NBA potential? (AP Photo/D. Smith)

This year’s athletic testing results (bench press, agility drill, vertical jump, etc.) are not yet released, so we’ll just take a look at the player measurements and what they mean. Some notable numbers from this year include Meyers Leonard’s massive height without shoes (6’11.75”), Andre Drummond’s ridiculous wingspan (7’6.25”), John Henson’s skyscraping standing reach (9’3.5”), Kevin Jones’ excessive body fat (11.2%), and Andrew Nicholson’s enormous hands (10” long, 10.75” wide). But didn’t we already know these things? We knew that Drummond was a freakish physical specimen, and Henson’s intrigue as a prospect stems from his elite length. We know Leonard is huge and Jones doesn’t look like much of an athlete. But that becomes the dilemma – should scouts put more stock in Kevin Jones’ physical measurements, or his versatile skill set that’s been on display at West Virginia for four years? The hard part is determining to what extent, if any, a player’s body will impact his ability to contribute in the NBA.

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Other Draft Withdrawal Deadline Decisions…

Posted by rtmsf on June 15th, 2009

Other than Jodie Meeks (see post below), we promised to keep an eye on several other all-americans who were considering leaving school early, but who had put off the decision until the very last minute, i.e., today.  Here’s a list of their decisions, and how it will impact their team…

early-entry-shield

  • Austin Daye, leaving Gonzaga – we said yesterday that we seriously questioned his reported decision to be leaning toward the draft, and it remains so.  Someone will take him due to his size, length and shooting ability, but he’s proven softer than Charmin, so we’re not sure about his long-term prospects.  As for Gonzaga, this is a substantial blow, as the Zags are already losing Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and Jeremy Pargo.  It’s never truly a ‘rebuilding’ year for Gonzaga, but Matt Bouldin will have a load to carry in the Pacific NW next season.
  • Luke Harangody, staying at Notre Dame – this is a good decision, as Harangody stands to have a good nucleus of players surrounding him at ND next season, and with the Big East not as strong as it was in 2009, the Irish will likely be able to ride ‘Gody and Tory Jackson to an NCAA berth after their disappointing campaign last year.  He’ll also have a legitimate shot at becoming the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in ND basketball history – he needs 730 pts and 370 rebounds, both totals less than he got this season.
  • Jeff Teague, leaving Wake Forest – we’re of the opinion that whoever drafts Teague in the late first round will get a steal on par with the Celtics selecting Rajon Rondo several years ago.  In much the same way as Rondo at Kentucky, he mentally checked out of college hoops once he decided he was going pro, but the talent and athleticism is there.  Wake will still have Ish Smith to run point and a decent supporting cast led by Al-Farouq Aminu, but Teague certainly was a difference maker and he will be missed.
  • Greivis Vasquez, staying at Maryland – this is another good decision because a more composed senior campaign from Vasquez could easily push the Terp PG into the top twenty of the 2010 draft.  This is huge news for Maryland because the Terps have an experienced team returning to College Park, losing only Dave Neal, and Gary Williams’ team should compete for third place in the ACC next season.
  • Ater Majok, staying at Connecticut – this was a pipe dream to begin with, but Majok may end up playing in Europe anyway due to his peripheral association to the ongoing Nate Miles recruiting investigation at UConn.  If he does end up playing for Jim Calhoun next season, there’s no telling how productive he’ll be, so it’s questionable what impact he could have.
  • Texas A&M TrioChinemelu Elonu is leaving the Aggies, but Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis are returning.  None of these three leaving made any sense whatsoever, and the 6’10 Elonu was clearly talking to the wrong people because he has no shot at getting drafted.  A&M should still be solid with the returns of Sloan and Davis, however.
  • Taj Gibson, leaving USC - probably a good decision given his age and the apocalypse going on at USC in the wake of the OJ Mayo scandal.  Do we really need to rehash how this will impact USC next season?  No, we don’t.

We’ll try to do some additional analysis on this year’s draft class later this week, but don’t hold us against it if we don’t.

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Debriefing the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Predraft Camp ended Friday in Chicago, and as we mentioned last week, there were twelve underclassmen who were still on the fence about whether to stay in the draft or return to school.  Given that this is a college basketball site, those are the players we’re interested in.  So let’s take a look at what we’re hearing about each of the dozen and how that may have impacted their decisions.  Thanks to ESPN’s Chad Ford, DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony, and NBADraft.net for their reports, which we borrowed liberally from.

fence-sitters

Derrick Brown, Xavier – Brown is not returning to school.  He officially announced his intentions on the first day of the camp, but he says that he’s known for several weeks.  He’s already graduated from school and with the move of his head coach Sean Miller to Arizona, he wasn’t interested in starting over with a new coach.  In drills, his mechanics apparently looked poor, but he has freakish athleticism and will hover in that guaranteed-money cutoff between the first and second rounds.

Austin Daye, Gonzaga – Daye measured out very well at 6’11 in shoes with a 7’3 wingspan, but at 192 pounds he might get blown away by a stiff breeze.  He also excelled in the workouts, showing a strong fundamental basis and a sure stroke from everywhere on the court.   There are still concerns about his relative strength, but according to Chad Ford, a couple of lottery teams were willing to give him another look after his workouts.  Probably leaning draft after this camp.

Taj Gibson, USC – Also measured well, standing 6’10 in shoes with an absurd 7’4 wingspan.  Given that Gibson will be 24 on draft day and he’s on the fence of the first round, he’s probably not returning to school.

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame – ‘Gody did not measure well, standing only 6’8 in shoes, a full inch-and-a-half shorter than his counterpart Tyler Hansbrough.  According to this report, though, he may have the best jumpshot in the entire draft class.  Still, he’s painfully unathletic and it would be a surprise to see Harangody stay in the draft.

Jrue Holiday, UCLA – Another winner in the measurement department, as Holiday showed he’s a big point guard (6’4 in shoes) with a long wingspan.  He was also extremely impressive in workouts, with one scout saying, “that’s the kid we fell in love with in high school.”  Given the exceptional workouts he was having in Chicago, Holiday was getting more buzz than any other guard there and is unlikely to return to Westwood.

Damion James, Texas – James must not have impressed much because most reports failed to mention him.  Given that he’s a projected second-round pick at this point and he told Andy Katz that he’s looking for a guarantee, he would probably do himself well to return to school another year.

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech – Lawal showed explosiveness and good size for a PF prospect, but according to Andy Katz, he may not be willing to take the chance unless he can secure a first round guarantee.  Not sure he’s going to get that, which would mean probably a better than even chance that Lawal would join Derrick Favors and Iman Shumpert back in the ATL next season.

Jodie Meeks, Kentucky – Meeks is another player looking for a first round guarantee, and he’s unlikely to get it.  He looked like he’s in tremendous shape and he shot the ball well in the camp, but there are still visible holes in his game (most notably, defense).  This Wildcat is probably heading back to Lexington to play off-the-ball with John Wall in 2009-10.

Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s – Mills impressed scouts with his speed and shooting mechanics, but his size makes him a borderline first rounder.  He said that if he is going to be a second round pick, he’ll return to St. Mary’s for his junior season.  It says here that we don’t think that’ll be a problem.

Tyler Smith, Tennessee – Measured in at only 6’6 in shoes, so what position is he at the next level?  Shot the ball well in drills, but remains on the fence depending on whether he’ll be a first or second round pick.  Sound familiar?

Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – Gone.  Says he’s leaving Wake Forest so long as he’s a first rounder, and he assuredly is one.  Athletic point who had a longer wingspan and reach than expected, which helps to explain how a 6’1 guy can throw down such ridiculous dunks in transition.

Greivis Vasquez, Maryland – Vasquez measured well for a combo guard, and his quotes made it sound like this was just for show.  He has little to no shot at the first round this year, and it appeared that he acknowledged as much.  He should be back in College Park next season.

So of the twelve players still sitting on the fence, we’ve got the following staying in the draft: Brown, Daye, Gibson, Holiday, Mills and Teague.  Really only Daye seems to be questionable at this point.  The other six: Harangody, James, Lawal, Meeks, Smith and Vasquez are largely hoping for a first round guarantee that will not be forthcoming (Lawal excepted  in this group).

Once the measurements including the athletic combine stats come out (vertical leap, speed, etc.), we’ll re-visit the 2009 Predraft Camp.

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Welcome to the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

Starting today, 52 NBA hopefuls will descend upon Chicago to go through a battery of athletic drills, medical testing and interviews in the hopes that an NBA team will see something dreamy along the way.  For our purposes at RTC, the twelve players we’re primarily interested in, the early entries who are still on the fence, are listed below in red.  It’ll be very interesting to see how these players perform in these tests, especially considering that unlike past years, there will be no five-on-five games where players can show their wares in a full-court setting.

In individual drills, we’d expect smooth athletes like Daye, Holiday, Mills and Teague to shine, but you never really know with these things.  It’ll be interesting to listen to the reports coming out of Chi-town the rest of the week with respect to these players.  According to Andy Katz (provider of the below list), this week will probably not determine the decisions of Teague, Lawal, Holiday, Mills, Gibson and Brown, but he expects Vasquez, ‘Gody, Meeks and Smith back in school soon.  He also says Damion James is expected to remain in the draft, but has nothing to say about Daye.   Stay tuned.

  • Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
  • Rodrigue Beaubois, Cholet (France)
  • DeJuan Blair, Pitt
  • Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Derrick Brown, Xavier*
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona
  • Nick Calathes, Florida
  • DeMarre Carroll, Missouri
  • Omri Casspi, Maccabi Elite (Israel)
  • Dionte Christmas, Temple
  • Earl Clark, Louisville
  • Darren Collison, UCLA
  • Dante Cunningham, Villanova
  • Stephen Curry, Davidson
  • Austin Daye, Gonzaga*
  • DeMar DeRozan, USC
  • Toney Douglas, Florida State
  • Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
  • Tyreke Evans, Memphis
  • Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
  • Taj Gibson, USC*
  • Danny Green, North Carolina
  • Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
  • Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
  • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame*
  • James Harden, Arizona State
  • Gerald Henderson, Duke
  • Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga
  • Jordan Hill, Arizona
  • Jrue Holiday, UCLA*
  • Joe Ingles, Melbourne South Dragons (Australia)
  • Damion James, Texas*
  • James Johnson, Wake Forest
  • Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech*
  • Ty Lawson, North Carolina
  • Eric Maynor, VCU
  • Jack McClinton, Miami
  • Jerel McNeal, Marquette
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky*
  • Patrick Mills, Saint Mary’s*
  • B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
  • Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State
  • A.J. Price, Connecticut
  • Tyler Smith, Tennessee*
  • DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
  • Jermaine Taylor, Central Florida
  • Jeff Teague, Wake Forest*
  • Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
  • Marcus Thornton, LSU
  • Greivis Vasquez, Maryland*
  • Terrence Williams, Louisville
  • Sam Young, Pitt
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O.J. Mayo: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Posted by nvr1983 on May 12th, 2009

After last year’s “Outside the Line” report, we figured that we wouldn’t hear much more about O.J. Mayo‘s time at USC (Reggie Bush‘s parents lived in a million dollar house and the NCAA didn’t seem to care). We expected that the biggest impact we would see was the reemergence of Taj Gibson and other Trojans who mysteriously disappeared during Mayo’s time in LA.

oj-mayo-slam1

It turns out that Mayo might be leaving a more lasting impact on USC basketball than we expected as new reports indicate that Tim Floyd gave at least $1,000 to Rodney Guillory, one of Mayo’s handlers. [Ed. Note: Is Yahoo! Sports run by UCLA’s journalism school? First Bush and now Mayo?] Given the fact that the NCAA is already “investigating” the Trojans’ basketball and football programs this could be a major blow to the USC athletic department. The question is whether the NCAA will bring out the whip against one of its glamour programs.

The new allegations (ok, we sort of figured this was going on) raise several others questions:

  • Was Renardo Sidney (or his handlers) aware of this when he (they) made the decision to go to Mississippi State?
  • How much does Tim Floyd regret turning down that Arizona payday?
  • Do USC’s two 4-star recruits (Noel Johnson and Lamont Jones) have Memphis-style opt-out clauses in their LOIs? It probably wouldn’t work here, but I’m betting they are wishing they had waited this out.

Our guess is that this investigation will take at least a few years before the NCAA finally decides that they don’t have enough as information as the suits in Indianapolis are more concerned with hunting down college students using Facebook or other crimes against humanity. Actions that impact the integrity of the game? Not so important in Indianapolis. . .

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Tim Floyd’s Rollercoaster Ride at USC

Posted by rtmsf on April 12th, 2009

It’s gearing up as another interesting offseason for Tim Floyd at USC.  For the second consecutive year, with the news that Demar DeRozan, Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson are going pro, he’ll be losing a significant portion of his team to NBA early entry after another relatively disappointing campaign.  (note: we’re sorry, but if you lose potentially five draft picks in two seasons and win only one NCAA Tournament game in that period, that’s really disappointing).  And guess what, probable one-and-doner Renardo Sidney is set to arrive on campus in 2009-10, further contributing to the problem that Floyd annually faces: it’s great to have NBA-level talent every season, but he doesn’t have enough ‘program guys’ who stick around for 3-4 years and provide consistency within the USC program.

007081118427_new_mexico_st_at_usc

An interesting analogy is John Calipari at Memphis.  When Calipari returned to college coaching at Memphis in 2000, there was a common presumption that he would do very well immediately.  The truth, however, is that it took Calipari five years at Memphis before he really got rolling – his first half-decade with the Tigers resulted in 2 NCAA appearances and only one NCAA win.  Remember the Dajuan Wagner, Antonio Burks and early Rodney Carney teams?  Yeah, we don’t really either.  It was only after he had built up enough depth of talent to sustain annual high draft pick losses and still win 30 games the next season did Memphis become a brand name again.

Floyd has struggled in his four seasons at USC to put together a team that looks largely like its predecessor, which is really the only way to consistently perform at an elite level.  The last three champions (UNC, Kansas, Florida) were essentially the same teams as the year prior, and that’s basically true of many of the F4 teams as well (with a piece here or there added).  Floyd’s problem is exacerbated by his tendency to utilize a short bench, as he typically plays only 7-8 guys throughout the season, so when he ends up losing a couple or three key players he’s left with depending on star freshmen to lead his team the next year (e.g., Sidney and star wing Noel Johnson in 2009-10).

Floyd would do well to continue recruiting elite players who are likely one-and-dones, but he should also try to get a few more of the three- and four-year players that will provide a backbone of consistency for his program.  Otherwise, the annual postseason rollercoaster of incoming/outgoing talent that USC basketball currently finds itself on won’t end anytime soon.  Of course, this all may be for naught if the NCAA continues snooping around

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Sweet Sixteen: Midwest Region Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

Looking back at the Midwest Region 1st/2d Rounds…

Best Game:  undoubtedly the game of the Tourney thus far, the Ohio St.-Siena game had not one, but two, game-changing threes by the underdog Saints to keep their hopes alive. 

Shocker:  Wake Forest’s complete and utter failure to show up for its game against Cleveland St. last Friday night.  With three first-rounders on the team, there is no excuse for a team to be this mentally out of it (which they were much of the last six weeks of the season). 

Cinderella That’s Not Really One:  Arizona was one of the last teams invited to the Dance, but we all knew that their talent was better than most #12 seeds if they could just put it together.  They received a favorable draw in the first two rounds, playing an overrated #5 Utah team and a true Cinderella #13 Cleveland St., but if they really want to impress us, beat Louisville tomorrow night. 

Region MVP (so far):  Cole Aldrich, Kansas.  A player who gets a trip-dub automatically wins the MVP from us.  Aldrich terrorized Dayton for 13/20/10 blks on Sunday. 

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Four

Posted by nvr1983 on March 21st, 2009

dynamiteAfter a thrilling finish last night that made Demetri Goodson a household name for at least a few days, we think the tournament has officially begun. Even being fairly selective, we think there are at least 3 outstanding games today. Here’s a quick rundown of the games we’ll be covering tomorrow:

  • 12:10 PM: #6 Arizona State vs. #3 Syracuse
  • 2:20 PM: #12 Wisconsin vs. #4 Xavier
  • 2:30 PM: #11 Dayton vs. #3 Kansas
  • 2:40 PM: #13 Cleveland State vs. #12 Arizona
  • 2:50 PM: #8 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
  • 4:50 PM: #6 Marquette vs. #3 Missouri
  • 5:00 PM: #10 USC vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 5:20 PM: #9 Siena vs. #1 Louisville

A couple thoughts on the scheduling: (1) It’s nice to see the early finish for those of us who have to work on Monday morning and (2) I think the NCAA and CBS might have finally figured out the spacing issue. Outside of the early game, I don’t think there should be any point during the other 2 sets of games where  we have all the games at halftime. I’m guessing the NCAA and/or CBS must have hired a bunch of McKinsey consultants at $500/hr to figure out how to stagger the games. Now I’m looking at it without a fancy Excel model, but this looks like a reasonable set-up, which should get the job done, but I’ve been wrong before. . .

12:08 PM: One piece of big news from the morning: Dominic James has been cleared to play today. I’m not sure what kind of experimental medical techniques they have up at Marquette, but that’s a shocking piece of news. I’d be surprised if he could even go 10 minutes today as he was expected to be out for at least 2 months when he broke his foot (don’t remember which bone) back on Febraury 25th, but we will wait and see.

12:25 PM: This game looks like it should be fairly entertaining and competitive. Interesting back story about Jonny Flynn and James Harden. I know the old school guys won’t like it, but with the growth of AAU and all these summer camps I think it should be expected that stuff like that will happen.

12:30 PM: For those of you who questioned my earlier assertion that the arenas looked dead this year, the NCAA is backing me up. I guess it should be somewhat expected with the economy although most tickets are purchased via the lottery well in advance. The 50% in Miami is appalling though. One more thing to remember about these numbers. . .they reflect the number of tickets purchased not the attendance. I’m sure there are a lot of tickets that have been purchased by ticket brokers that have not been purchased by people who actually go to the games.

12:40 PM: As talented as Harden is, I really question his tendency to disappear for long stretches. Is he unable to play hard for 40 minutes or is he “letting the game come to him”?

12:47 PM: Arizona State is getting run out of the gym right now. I wonder how much the early start hurts the West Coast teams here. I’m not sure if any of you have data on this.

12:50 PM: We just posted the next part of our Mascot Challnege. Be sure to vote for your favorite mascots and help him/her win the national title.

12:52 PM: Rihards Kuksiks is single-handedly keeping the Sun Devils in this game with 15 of their first 30 points. Syracuse goes into half with a 41-32 lead. Harden still doesn’t have a point. If I’m a NBA GM, his tendency to do this drops him a few spots on my board.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

dynamiteWe’d like to apologize for our coverage yesterday. We had some technical/communication issues regarding the post yesterday, but I’ll be back covering the games today so everything should be back to normal. Here’s a quick rundown of the games we’ll be covering today:

Early Games

  • 12:15 PM: #14 Stephen F. Austin vs. #3 Syracuse
  • 12:25 PM: #9 Tennessee vs. #8 Oklahoma State
  • 12:30 PM: #11 Utah State vs. #6 Marquette
  • 12:30 PM: #14 North Dakota State vs. #3 Kansas

Afternoon Games

  • 2:45 PM: #11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona State
  • 2:55 PM: #16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
  • 3:00 PM: #14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
  • 3:00 PM: #11 Dayton vs. #6 West Virginia

Evening Games

  • 7:10 PM: #16 Morehead State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:10 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
  • 7:20 PM: #10 USC vs. #7 Boston College
  • 7:25 PM: #13 Portland State vs. #4 Xavier

Late Night Games

  • 9:40 PM: #9 Siena vs. #8 Ohio State
  • 9:40 PM: #13 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wake Forest
  • 9:50 PM: #15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:55 PM: #12 Wisconsin vs. #5 Florida State

Quite frankly, today’s slate looks a lot more interesting than what was on yesterday. There are 3 games in each of the 4 groups that seem like they will be entertaining except for the afternoon set where only the 6/11 match-ups really catch my eyes. Feel free to leave your thoughts or questions on any of these games or the ones from yesterday in the comment section. I’ll be back around noon to cover the day’s action.

12:15 PM: Ok. We’re about to get underway. I was a little delayed by the fact that the bus to RTC East decided to pick up 3 people in wheelchairs, which slowed down my trip significantly (had to get them in/out during 6 stops). Is anybody rooting for Stephen F. Austin just because they can’t stand Eric Devendorf?

12:20 PM: “The best look the Lumberjacks have had so far”? That was only their 2nd possession of the game. The crows is awful in Miami. I know its early, but there is nobody there. I have to say the NCAA did a pretty poor job with their pod placement. I’ll have to double check, but Miami is probably the worst pod location in terms of distance from the participating schools (and the fact that they don’t care about sports in Miami).

12:30 PM: Rough start for Stephen F. Austin in Miami. Already down 10-2. Hopefully they can keep it close although this was probably the game that was the most likely to be a blowout in this group.

12:35 PM: Did anybody pick upsets in this group of games? I have North Dakota State and Utah State.

12:40 PM: Good game in Dayton (Ok State 14, Tennessee 13 with 12:20 left in the first half). In Boise, Lazar Hayward is up 7-5 on Utah State.

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Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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NCAA Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Boston College (#7, Midwest, Minneapolis pod)
vs. USC (#10)
Fri., 3/20 at 7:20 PM
Vegas Line: Boston College, +2

bc-vegas

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
Conference: ACC, At-large
Coach: Al Skinner, 232-148
08-09 Record: 22-11 (9-7 in the ACC)
Last 12 Games: 7-5
Best Win: At UNC (when they were undefeated and “unbeatable”), 85-78 on January 4th. A close second is their victory at home against Duke, 80-74 on February 15th.
Worst Loss: Following their win at UNC, they lost to Harvard 82-70 at home on January 7th.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 113.9, 27th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 99.3, 132nd

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Tyrese Rice (17.1 PPG and 5.4 APG); Joe Trapani (13.5 PPG and 6.6 RPG)
Unsung Hero: Rakim Sanders (13.0 PPG and 4.5 RPG)
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Rice, projected at #43 (in 2009). Trapani and Sanders are potential late 2nd round picks when they decide to leave.
Key Injuries: N/A
Depth: 29.7% (200th nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inconsistency. See their January 4th/7th Jekyll and Hyde where they knocked off #1 UNC on the road and then lost the next game to Harvard at home.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Rice can play consistently and within himself. He tries to get too fancy sometimes with the alley-oops when a simple bounce pass will do.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The supporting cast (outside of Rice, Trapani, and Sanders) doesn’t step up.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited:
2007; lost to Georgetown in the 2nd round
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: Elite 8 (1967 and 1982)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.28. On average, the Eagles win 0.28 more games than they would be expected to based on their seed compared to historical norms.

Other
Distance to First Round Site:
1,389 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: The Eagles boast three famous QBs (Heisman trophy winner Doug Flutie, one-time All-Pro Matt Hasselbeck and the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan)
School Wishes It Could Forget: The 1978-79 basketball point shaving scandal, but Bill Simmons won’t let them.
Prediction: The Eagles have played well at the end of the regular season, but they drew a hot USC team. They should be competitive against the Trojans, but in the end Taj Gibson, DeMar Derozan, and Daniel Hackett will be too much.
Major RTC stories: RTC Live: Wake Forest @ Boston College and RTC Live: Clemson at Boston College

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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